News Corporation, The Walt Disney Company To Launch Video-On-Demand Service
The Walt Disney Company and News Corporation have entered an agreement to establish a joint venture company to launch a new broadband entertainment service called Movies.com, which will provide movies and other entertainment content on demand to consumers in the U.S. Movies.com, expected to launch in early 2002, will be available to consumers with enhanced cable systems with on-demand capabilities, as well as all forms of broadband Internet access. The new service will absorb Disney's existing Movies.com Website and will feature live-action films and other content as well as movie-related information and promotional video content. Movies.com will be a new operating company owned equally by News Corporation and The Walt Disney Company. The joint venture will enter into video-on-demand distribution agreements with The Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox and Miramax Films. New releases from the studios will be made available to Movies.com on an exclusive basis for a limited period of time ahead of the traditional pay-per-view window. In addition, Movies.com will offer a variety of recent and classic films from the film libraries of Fox and Disney. The service also anticipates licensing rights to new releases, library films and other content from third party suppliers. Movies.com users will have two ways to access the films. If their cable operator has already upgraded its systems to offer video-on-demand capabilities and the operator chooses to carry Movies.com, users can access a film on the service through their digital cable set-top boxes. Alternatively, users can utilize any broadband Internet connection to download the film to a computer hard drive for playback on a television or computer display. In both cases, users can watch the film using full pause, stop, rewind and fast forward functionality. Upon commencement of operation of the Movies.com service in 2002, it is anticipated that more than 10 million homes in the U.S. will be able to access video-on-demand via either broadband Internet or cable. Movies.com will be based in Los Angeles and will have an independent management team.